Endowment Grant Recipients

Research Grants

FNPS annually provides grants for research leading to the conservation of Florida native plants. These grants are funded through donations from our Endowment Fund, from our general membership fees, and from targetted donations from individuals and chapters.

The list below the many projects that we have funded.

Pesticides and pollination of imperiled plants of the Lower Florida Keys
Brittany Harris (Florida International University, 2016)
Florida’s hammocks and the separation of generations in ferns
Jerald Pinson (University of Florida, Department of Biology, 2016)
Improving analyses of diversity in the imperiled Pine Rockland plant community
Lauren Trotta (University of Florida, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, 2016)
A DNA barcode to identify native species of air plants
Barbara Whitlock (University of Miami, Department of Biology, 2015)
Population viability analysis for three populations of the threatened Florida endemic, Euphorbia telephioides
Natali Miller (Florida State University, Department of Biology, 2015)
Growth rings in Florida’s hardwood hammocks: Can X-rays precisely estimate the age and growth rates of trees in South Florida?
Sebastian Palmas-Perez (University of Florida, School of Forest Resources and Conservation, 2015)
Population density and root nodulation of Chapmannia floridana in natural and disturbed habitats.
Jennifer Schafer (, 2014)
Evolutionary origins of Paronychia on Florida’s sand ridges.
John Schenk (Tulane University, Department of Biology, 2014)
Estimating genetic diversity and population fragmentation in the South Florida Pine Rockland endemic, Ayenia euphrasifolia.
Wyatt Sharber (University of Miami, Department of Biology, 2014)
Propagation and testing of putatively canker-resistant Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia), a critically endangered conifer of the Apalachicola River region.
Jason A. Smith (University of Florida, School of Forest Resources & Conservation, 2013)
Determining ploidal diversity in two varieties of Dicerandra immaculata and the influence on spatial distribution.
Matthew Richardson (U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, 2013)
Species delimination of the endangered Fuschs bromeliad (Guzmania monostachia L.): Integrating environmental niche modeling and next-generation phylogenetics.
Ryan Moraski (University of Florida, Gainesville and Florida Museum of Natural History, 2013)
Genetic resources for identifying beaksedges (Rhynchospora) and understanding their diversity in Florida and the Coastal Plain
Chris Buddenhagen (Department of Biology, Florida State University, 2012)
Determining parentage and ploidy of hybrid Tillandsia: Achieving a better understanding of Florida’s native plant diversity
Emily Warschefsky (Department of Biology, Florida International University, 2012)
Determining the consequences of herbivory by the invasive South American cactus moth, Cactoblastis cactorum (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) to native Opuntia populations in Florida
Kristen Sauby (Department of Biology, University of Florida, 2012)
Evaluating ploidy in the endangered Florida endemic Lupinus aridorum to aid conservation efforts
Glenn Bupp (Florida Institute of Technology, 2011)
Clonal spread and ages of Serenoa repens in a threatened ecosystem
Mizuki Takahashi (Bucknell University, 2011)
Conservation genetics of the endangered Key Tree Cactus Pilosocereus robinii
Tonya Fotinos (Florida International University, 2011)
Investigating rarity: Species delimitation and evolution in Dicerandra (Lamiaceae) annuals
Adam C. Payton (University of Florida-Department of Biology, 2010)
Can among-population variation in mating system help to explain patterns of adaptive genetic diversity in the endangered endemic Hypericum cumulicola?
Christopher G. Oakley (Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, 2010)
Demographic analysis to understand what determines the success and failure of populations of the endangered Florida endemic Conradina glabra
Alice A. Winn (Florida State University - Department of Biological Science, 2009)

The objective was to collect data on survival and preproduction from three introduced and three natural populations of C. glabra to construct and analyze demographic models. The primary objective was to use these models to determine which life cycle stages and demographic processes contribute most to population success or demise. The outcome of the research was reported to both applied conservation and basic science audiences in the form of an oral presentation (2010 FNPS meetings in Tallahassee, and Annual Meeting of Ecological Society of America) and papers published in professional journals

Resulting publication:

Bladow, J.M., T. Bohner, and A.A. Winn. 2017. Comparisons of demography and inbreeding depression in introduced and wild populations of an endangered shrub. Natural Areas Journal 37:294-308.

Evaluation and conservation of Harperocallis flava, a federally endangered plant in the savannas of the Apalachicola River Basin.
Herbert Kesler and Jennifer Trusty (Folius Consulting, 2009)

The objectives of this project were:

  1. Determine the current status of populations in the ANF
  2. Estimate the fire frequency and season that maximizes population growth rates for this species Identify which stage in the plants life cycle management can target to ensure the persistence and success of populations.
  3. Based on these analyses, outline focus for management practices.

This project directly addressed actions outlined in the USFWS Recovery Plan of this species. It was designed to measure the decline or growth of selected populations and their response to fire aiding in the conservation of this species.

Systematics, biogeography, and conservation genetics of two Florida endemics, Nolina brittoniana and N. atopocarpa (Ruscaceae)
James M. Heaney (University of Florida and Florida Museum of Natural History – Department of Biology, 2009)

This project was a phylogenetic study of Nolina, based on molecular and anatomical evidence from various localities in Florida. Additional objectives were to quantify patterns of genetic diversity in and among populations and to compare these measures among congeneric species.

Mating system biology of the Florida native plant: Illicium parviflorum
Nicholas Buckley (University of Tennessee – Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2009)

Investigated the mating system and pollination biology of the early diverging angiosperm Illicium parviflorum, a close relative to I. floridanum. Prior to this research, there was no pollination biology known on this species. Illicium parviflorum is endemic to Florida and Georgia; however, the populations in Georgia are thought to have gone extinct (NatureServe 2009). Understanding the mating system biology is essential in determining future conservation strategies. This information will be used in expanding the current knowledge of early diverging angiosperm mating systems.

Fire, flowering, and fragmentation: The effects of seasonal fire on the reproductive biology of pineland allamanda (em>Angadenia berteroi), a rare shrub of the pine rocklands
Beyte Barrios Roque (Florida International University, 2008)
Effects of habitat, microsite and seed density on seed limitation and seedling establishment in native scrubland and scrub undergoing restoration.
Elizabeth L. Stephens (University of Central Florida, 2008)
Do mycorrhizal fungi limit establishment of Slash Pine Pinus elliottii var. densa seedlings?
Tania Wyss (University of Miami, 2008)
Conservation genetics of three endangered Florida endemic Harrisia cacti
Alan Franck (University of South Florida, 2007)
Effects of time since fire on nutrient limitation of plant productivity in Florida scrub ecosystems: Does disturbance shift nitrogen vs. phosphorus limitation?
Jennifer Schafer (University of Florida, 2007)

Resulting Publication:

Jennifer L. Schafer , Lauren L. Sullivan , Carl W. Weekley , and Eric S. Menges.  2013.  Effects of habitat and time-since-fire on recruitment, survival, and reproduction of Paronychia chartacea ssp. chartacea, a short-lived Florida scrub endemic herb.  J. Torreya Botanical Club: 140: 181-195.

Conservation of a threatened species requires knowledge of the factors that affect its recruitment, survival, and reproduction. We conducted a long-term study on the demography of Paronychia chartacea ssp. chartacea, a short-lived, gynodioecious Florida rosemary scrub endemic. Specifically, we assessed the effects of habitat (rosemary scrub vs. roadsides), time-since-fire, microhabitat, and rainfall on recruitment, survival, flowering, and seed production. In addition, in a shorter-term study, we assessed the effects of habitat, time-since-fire, and gender on flower and seed production. Overall, approximately one-third of individuals survived more than one year and individuals most often flowered twice indicating that P. chartacea ssp. chartacea is an iteroparous, short-lived perennial, which is in contrast to its disjunct conspecific, the annual P. chartacea ssp. minima. Recruitment was higher in roadsides, but seed production was higher in rosemary scrub. Within rosemary scrub, recruitment was highest at intermediate times-since-fire and in the center of large gaps, the microhabitat with the greatest amount of bare sand. Median lifespan was longest in long unburned sites, suggesting that P. chartacea ssp. chartacea is able to persist despite litter accumulation and competition from shrubs. Rainfall had a positive effect on annual survival, but did not affect seedling recruitment. Females produced more seeds than hermaphrodites, indicating that females contribute more to population persistence. Our study suggests P. chartacea ssp. chartacea populations will persist under the 15–40 year fire return interval characteristic of regularly burned Florida rosemary scrub, but may not persist in roadsides if greater recruitment does not balance shorter lifespans.

Population structure and dynamics of restored and natural populations of the federally endangered Florida endemic Jacquemontia reclinata (Convolvulaceae)
John Pascarella with Joyce Maschinski (Valdosta State University (John Pascarella) and Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden (Joyce Maschinski), 2007)
Genetic diversity of rare species on the Lake Wales Ridge compared to the genetic diversity of closely kin species that are more wide-spread
Charlotte Germain-Aubrey (University of Florida - Department of Botany, 2006)

The Society provided funds for her research on Polygala lewtonii.

Genetics and taxonomy of Schoenoplectus, commonly known as bulrush
Diana Hurlbut (Central Michigan University - Biology Department, 2006)

The FNPS grant was restricted to that portion of her research that relates to Florida.

Population genetic structure of the endangered vine Ipomoea microdactyla Griseb. (Convolvulaceae) over the global extent of its range (south Florida and nearby Caribbean islands
John Geiger (Florida International University - Department of Biology, 2006)
Effects of urbanization on gene flow and recruitment of pond cypress (Taxodium distichum var. imbricarium (Nutt.) Croom) among cypress domes in central Florida
Lisa McCauley (University of Central Florida - Department of Biology, 2006)

The following publication was partially funded by this Endowment Research Grant:

Lisa A. McCauley & David G. Jenkins & Pedro F. Quintana-Ascencio.  2013. Isolated Wetland Loss and Degradation Over Two Decades in an Increasingly Urbanized Landscape.  Wetlands: 3:117–127.
Urbanization is a leading cause of species loss in the United States because of habitat destruction and fragmentation. Wetlands can be affected by urbanization and the condition of wetlands can be compared across land use categories. Cypress domes are isolated wetlands dominated by cypress (Taxodium distichum) and often remain in urban areas. The purpose of this study was to quantify the effects of urbanization on cypress dome number, size and spatial pattern through two decades of rapid urbanization in Orlando, Florida, a large city in the southeastern US. Over 3,000 cypress domes, in a region typical of urban growth in the cypress range, were identified in images from 1984. Over a 20-year period, 26 % were destroyed or degraded (i.e., no longer cypress-dominated) and almost half in managed forests were degraded, destroyed, or became surrounded by urban or agricultural land uses. The smallest and largest cypress domes were lost, leaving only mediumsized wetlands and decreasing landscape-level diversity. Despite the fact that these wetlands are common and partially protected by legislation, cypress in isolated wetlands may be at risk from urbanization.
Phylogeny, phylogeography, and conservation genetics of a clade of southeastern US endemics in the mint family (Lamiaceae)
Christine Edwards, Douglas Soltis, and Pamela Soltis (University of Florida, 2005)

The intent was to use various DNA sequencing techniques to investigate patterns of genetic diversity within and among populations of each species of Conradina, Clinopodium, Piloblephis, and Stachydeoma and to apply the resulting information to understanding the phylogeny and geographical patterns of genetic variation in these dry site mints

Applying plant facilitation to maidencane marsh retoration in Florida ranchlands.
Elizabeth Boughton (University of Central Florida - Department of Biology, 2005)

This project looked at the roles of maidencane (Panicum hemitomon) and soft rush (Juncus effusus) in degraded maidencane marshes.  In specific, she will be looking at the role soft rush may play as a nurse plant in recovering maidencane marshes.  The study was conducted in wetlands at the MacArthur Agro-ecology Research Center.

Vascular floristic inventory of Tomoka State Park, Bulow Creek State Park, Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, and Addison blockhouse Historic State Park, Volusia and Flagler counties, FL
John Kunzer, Jr. (University of South Florida, 2005)

This was a detailed floristic inventory of over 6000 acres of publicly owned lands.

Floral biology and molecular phylogenetics of the genus Asimina (Annonaceae)
Katherine R. Goodrich (University of South Carolina, 2005)

The study  investigated several the phylogeny and patterns in floral morphology in the genus Asimina, specifically seeking answers to the following questions:

  • What are the basal and derived traits within the genus Asimina and how do they differ from tropical relatives?
  • How has Asimina spread geographically into its current range in North America ?
  • Do the two floral phenotypes represent an early divergence event, or “suites” of traits which have been gained or lost multiple times?
  • What trends in pollinator attraction can be inferred from floral trait evolution within Asimina?
Is the exotic Brazilian pepper Schinus terebinthifolius a threat to mangrove ecosystems in Florida ?
Melinda Donnelly (, 2005)

The purpose of this study was to determine if and how Schinus terebinthifolius out-competes or inhibits growth of the red, black and white mangroves. In Mosquito Lagoon, this was accomplished by determining the ability of Schinus terebinthifolius to:

  • chemically inhibit growth of mangrove propagules,
  •  invade coastal habitats by dispersing seeds in water,
  • tolerate conditions within the mangrove canopy, and
  • alter species richness and abundance of the flora when present in a mangrove system.

By better understanding the invasibility and impact of Schinus terebinthifolius on mangroves, coastal resource managers will be able to develop the most effective management strategies to prevent this exotic from altering the structure and productivity of the mangrove ecosystem.

Morphological and Molecular Systematics of the Tillandsia fasciculata (Bromeliaceae) Complex: Biogeographical and Evolutionary Implications
Brian J. Sidoti (Florida International University - Department of Biological Sciences, 2004)

The purpose of this project was to gain greater insight into the speciation and radiation of species within the Tillandsia fasciculata (Bromeliaceae) complex that occurs in Florida and Cuba . Specifically, anatomical, morphological, and molecular studies were used to examine the T. fasciculata complex in order to support taxonomic decisions and species boundaries. This baseline data was to be used to construct and solidify conservation measures.

Demography and Phenology of the Endangered Fern, Ophioglossum palmatum, at the Tosohatchee State Preserve
Eliane Norman and Sandra Carnival (Stetson University (Eliane Norman) and Tosohatchee State Preserve (Sandra Carnival), 2004)

This study evaluated the growth patterns of hand ferns on the Tosohatchee State Preserve. Plants were selected randomly from different sites. Each plant as well as each leaf was tagged. The following parameters were measured or observed 4 times a year: length of stipe; length and width of blade; # of lobes; # of fertile spikes; size of fertile spike and stage of maturation; % of damaged leaves. The data obtained were used to assess of the longevity of the Hand Fern and to relate phenological patterns in leaf growth and spike production and maturation to sesonal variation at the Tosohatchee State Preserve.

Evaluation and Conservation of a Threatened Carnivorous Plant (Godfrey’s Butterwort, Pinguicula ionantha)
Herbert 'Tug' Kesler (Auburn University - Dept. Biological Sciences, 2004)

Pinguicula ionantha R. K. Godfrey (Lentibulariaceae) is a recently described species endemic to a 25-mile radius in the panhandle of Florida . Due to its shrinking population size, P. ionantha was listed as threatened by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service on July 12, 1993 and is currently listed as Florida State endangered. This study conducted field and laboratory experiments to gain information needed to conserve federally threatened P. ionantha populations in the panhandle of Florida . The results of both types of research were integrated to create a better understanding of 1) the current status of all 62 known populations, 2) how the survival and fecundity of wild P. ionantha populations are directly effected by prescribed fire, and 3) whether a soil seed bank exists for this species. The goal of the project was to develop recommendations for conservation and management practices that will ensure the long-term survival of federally threatened and Florida endangered, Pinguicula ionantha populations.

Trophic cascades: influences of herbivory and predation influence on post-fire succession
Tania Kim (University of Florida - Department of Zoology, 2004)

The direct effects of prescribed fire on plant communities have been extensively studied yet little is known about the effects of fire on other trophic levels and trophic interactions. Interspecific interactions, such as herbivory and predation, play important roles in maintaining ecosystem function, however very little is known about their roles in post-fire succession. Predators may indirectly benefit plant communities by alleviating intense herbivory pressures typically associated with post-fire habitats. If predator, top-down controls are strongly felt by plant communities, then herbivory and predation play extremely important roles in post-fire succession. The goal of this research project was to determine whether insect herbivores and vertebrate predators play significant roles in influencing plant growth and reproduction following fire in longleaf pine sandhills. This was accomplished by setting up insect herbivore and vertebrate predator exclosures in longleaf pine sandhill habitats throughout two reserves in north-central Florida .

The Illicium parviflorum Michx. ex Vent. (Illiciaceae) paradox: an endangered Florida endemic and its role in the horticultural trade
Ashley B. Morris withPamela S. Soltis (University of Florida (Morris) and Florida Museum of Natural History (Soltis), 2003)

The goal of this study was to assess levels of genetic diversity in natural populations of Florida anise,  I. parviflorum, as well as that of horticultural stocks. 

This rare species is quite popular in the horticultural trade, and is commonly sold as far north as North Carolina and as far west as Arkansas. It is common practice in plant nurseries to increase their inventories by propagating cuttings, resulting in a genetically homogeneous stock. In addition, many nurseries obtain their original cuttings from the same source, resulting in homogeneity among nurseries. Such practices may have serious consequences for natural populations exhibiting self-incompatibility.

The genetics of gender flexibility in passionflower
Cindy Bennington (Stetson University, 2003)

To test ideas related to the evolution of andromonoecy in passionflower, the investigator proposed an experiment toexamine the response of gender expression to resource limitation (imposed through herbivory). Three main questions were addressed:

  • Is fruit production limited by the number of cosexual flowers produced by a plant? 
  • Is there genetic differentiation among populations in the proportion of male flowers per plant? 
  • Is there genetic differentiation among populations in the degree to which floral gender is influenced by the environment? Genetic differences among populations may be fixed or plastic. 
Effects of invasive exotic trees On the seedling demography of the endangered bromeliad Catopsis berteroniana
Philip A. Gonsiska (Florida International University, 2003)

South Florida is subject to invasion by exotic species, such as Australian pine (Casuarina spp.), Brazilian pepper (Schinus terebinthifolius), and melaleuca (Melaleuca quinquenervia). These species have the capacity to invade habitats, such as mangrove and buttonwood communities where C. berteroniana is found. Since Australian pine, Brazilian pepper, and melaleuca have the capacity to exclude native vegetation in the habitats they invade, if they are less suitable epiphyte hosts than native tree species, the possibility exists for the decimation of Florida's epiphyte communities. This could result in the extirpation of endangered epiphytes, such as Catopsis berteroniana.

The purpose of the observational portion of this project was to determine the fate of C. berteroniana seedlings during their first year of life on their naturally occurring native host species. The experimental portion of this study determined the effects of host species on seedling recruitment and thereby demonstrated potential effects of invasive woody species on bromeliad communities in south Florida.

Variation in functional morphology and ecophysiological responses within the southeastern endemic genus Dicerandra
Amethyst Merchant (University of Florida - Department of Botany, 2002)

Objective: to determine how species of Dicerandra compensate for resource limitations within native habitats by comparing variation in functional morphology and ecophysiology.

Population genetic structure of an endangered Florida endemic plant, Illicium parviflorum
Ashley Morris (University of Florida - Department of Botany, 2002)

Objective: to assess levels of genetic variation within and among populations of Illicium parviflorum, a state-endangered shrub that is endemic to six counties in central Florida (Lake, Marion, Orange, Polk, Seminole, and Volusia).

Habitat fragmentation and Ipomoea microdactyla (wild-potato morning glory)
John Geiger (Florida International University, 2002)

Objective: to study the pollination and breeing system of this rare vine and to determine the effects of habitat fragmentation on reporductive success.

Pollination and conservation of an endangered coastal endemic plant: Jacquemontia reclinata
Elena Pinto-Torres (Department of Biological Sciences Florida International University, 2001)
Nitrogen economy of the pitcher plant Sarracenia rosea
Gantt Boswell (Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Tulane University, 2001)
Investigating molecular and quantitative variation within populations of an endangered endemic plant
Hannah Thornton (Department of Biological Sciences Florida International University, 2001)
Groundwater salinity and leaf and twig carbon storage in native tropical trees of the Florida Keys
Douglas G. Scofield (Department of Biology University of Miami, 2000)
Applying see technology for the conservation and restoration of several Florida native plants
Hector E. Perez (Department of Environmental Horticulture University of Florida, 2000)
Demography and Ecology of Paronychia chartacea
Jenny Schafer (Archbold Biological Station, 2000)

Paronychia chartacea (Papery whitlow-wort) is a state endangered and federally-threatened plant endemic to Florida.Disturbed firelanes provide an open, unstable, and less fire-dependent habitat for many scrub endemics. Some species show different demographic trends between populations in natural scrub habitats and firelanes.

The goals of the project were:

  • To collect quarterly demographic data on P.chartacea ssp. chartacea and compare populations in rosemary scrub and firelanes.
  • To determine the effects of time-since-fire on growth, reproductive output, and seedling recruitment of P.chartacea ssp. chartacea.
Distinguishing among Chrysopsis species along the Lake Wales Ridge and central peninsular Florida using molecular genetic methods
Laurie L. Walker (Department of Biology, University of South Florida, 2000)
Comparative gas exchange patterns of Schinus terebinifolius versus native plant species under saline conditions
Sharon Ewe (Department of Biology University of Miami, 2000)
A study of Polygonella smallii in Palm Beach County, FL
Chris Lockhart (Habitat Specialists, Inc., 1999)
Reforestation of Pinus elliottii var. densa in the pine rocklands of South Florida
Elizabeth R. Mayo (, 1999)
Populations dynamics and viability of Chamaechrista keyensis (Caesalpinioideae), an endemic herb of the lower Florida Keys
Hong Liu (Department of Biological Sciences Florida International University, 1999)
A survey of the Florida Keys for the rare species Agalinis keyensis Pennell (Schrophulariaceae)
John Hays (Herbarium, Northeast Louisiana University Monroe, LA, 1999)
Use of molecular markers for determining the geographic range of Chrysopsis fIoridana and distinguishing between Chrysopsis fIoridana and Chrysopsis scabrella
Laurie Walker Markham (Department of Biology University of South Florida Tampa, 1999)
Determination of the distribution, host-plant usage and preference of five native plants used by the endangered swallowtail in hammocks on the Miami Rock Ridge
Annemarie Jameson (Department of Biology University of Miami, 1998)
Baseline population and habitat analysis of Nemastylis fIoridana Small (fall-flowering ixia) within the Colbert/Cameron Mitigation Bank property, Volusia County, Florida to the east of St. Johns River as it enters Lake Harney
William F. Gray (Breedlove Dennis & Associates, Inc., 1998)